Irish start-up Crospon has licensed a 'smart' drug delivery skin patch technology from HP Labs that uses inkjet printing technology to deliver drugs under the skin.
According to the companies, the system enables painless, controlled release of one or more drugs to just below the surface of the skin from a single patch activated by processors within the patch itself.
In return for royalty payments, HP has licensed the technology to Crospon who will commercialise the patch and make it available to pharmaceutical companies for use in various therapeutic areas.
"This industry-first skin patch invented by HP allows Crespon to offer a superior drug delivery platform for doctors and patients," said John O'Dea, Crospon's CEO.
"We look forward to working with our pharmaceutical customers to bring this breakthrough solution to the market."
The patch uses microneedles to deliver medication intradermally and should enable the delivery of a wide variety of small molecule drugs and biopharmaceuticals without the discomfort caused by traditional hypodermic needles.
According to HP, because the intradermal delivery method delivers drugs just below the surface of the skin it overcomes the problems associated with transdermal delivery systems, commonly used in nicotine patches, which rely on absorption through the skin.
The delivery platform was adapted from HP's inkjet system uses the same heating element used inside inkjet heads to deliver the drugs through the needles.
By incorporating processors into the patch the system can deliver precise amounts of different drugs at different times to a patient as well as enabling access to dosage history, both of which will help ensure patient compliance.
In addition, patient activation mechanisms could allow patients to increase the dosage of medications, while inherent safety protocols for preventing adverse drug reactions could be included with sensors that measure a patient's heart rate (for example).
The successful commercialisation of this technology will play a key part in the development of Crospon, which was founded last year and has just completed a €2.3m seed financing round.
"We encourage companies like Crospon to apply HP's intellectual property in innovative ways to help more people benefit from these important technologies," said Joe Beyers, vice president of Intellectual Property Licensing at HP.